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Norway’s Crown Princess turns 50

Just a few weeks after Crown Prince Haakon marked his 50th birthday, his wife, Mette-Marit, is celebrating her 50 years of life.

Who is the next commoner queen who was once controversial but is now beloved by all of Norway?

Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby was born on 19 August 1973 in Kristiansand, Norway. She has one older sister and two older brothers. Her parents divorced when she was young, and both would eventually remarry. As a child, she spent many weekends on the coast, where she learned to sail.

She completed her upper secondary education at Kristiansand Cathedral School in 1994. She lived in London for a while and worked for the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce. Mette-Marit returned to Norway and attended Bjørknes Private School before taking the preliminary examinations and exams in information technology and chemistry at Agder University College in 1997; from 2000-2002, she focused on ethics at the University of Oslo. The royal continued her education for several more years in London and Oslo, eventually obtaining a Master of Management degree.

Mette-Marit has admitted that she went through a rebellious phase in her younger years. She was a frequent partier and associated with those in the drug culture. On 13 January 1997, she gave birth to a son, Marius Borg Høiby, whose father had a drug conviction. Three days before her wedding to Haakon, she told the public at a news conference, “My adolescent rebellion was stronger than most…I have had experiences for which I have paid dearly. I would like to take this occasion to condemn drugs.” She has been well-respected in Norway for being honest about her past.

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She initially met her future husband, Crown Prince Haakon, at the Quart Festival in 1996. Three years later, the pair met again, and they struck up a relationship. Their engagement was announced on 1 December 2000. Her engagement ring was the same engagement ring King Harald used to propose to Queen Sonja and that King Olav used to propose to the Crown Prince’s grandmother, Princess Märtha of Sweden. 

They married on 25 August 2001 at Oslo Cathedral. Together they have two children: Princess Ingrid Alexandra (born 2004) and Prince Sverre Magnus (born 2005).

Mette-Marit has four godchildren: Prince Christian of Denmark, Prince Odysseas-Kimon of Greece and Denmark, her niece, Emma Tallulah Behn, and Prince Oscar of Sweden.

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The 2011 Norwegian terror attacks on 22 July hit very close to home for the Crown Princess. When the lone-wolf terrorist Anders Behring Breivik began attacking Utøya island in Buskerud, Mette-Marit’s step-brother Trond Berntsen was one of his first victims. She and her husband attended the memorial services last month for the 5th anniversary of the attacks.

Since becoming the Crown Princess of Norway, Mette-Marit has worked to raise awareness for causes close to her heart, including film, reading, music, mental health and the Red Cross. She has also donated her clothes and sold them in charitable auctions to help those in need.

As a UN Special Representative for UNAIDS, the Crown Princess travels to support different programmes in various countries worldwide. The Norwegian Royal Court has said, “She is particularly focused on women’s health and has worked for many years to strengthen youth leadership in the AIDS effort.”

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The Crown Princess is an avid reader who helps promote the literature tour in Norway each summer. In 2014, Her Royal Highness told The Norway Post, “From when I was a child and throughout my youth, books have meant a lot to me. I read just as many books now as when I was young, so it has meant almost as much to me throughout my entire life.” She makes sure her three children are reading something every day.

Unfortunately, in 2018, she was diagnosed with chronic pulmonary fibrosis, which has limited her royal duties. She still attends events and travels when she can, but her health has become a priority.

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About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. She's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.